Big Basin Redwoods State Park, located in the Santa Cruz mountains, is California's oldest state park, founded in 1902. The park is home to a large number of ancient coastal Redwood trees, diverse wildlife, and many waterfalls. The hike to Berry Creek Falls takes you through the heart of this lush old-growth forest and towering redwood trees to some of the most beautiful waterfalls this region has to offer.
The hike to Berry Creek Falls is a strenuous 10.8-mile hike that can be done as a day hike or an overnight backpacking trip. If you plan on backpacking overnight, it is required to have a permit reserving a campsite in the designated campground. Starting and ending at the Big Basin Park headquarters, it is recommended to do the hike in a counter-clockwise loop, starting on the Sunset Trail and ending on the Skyline to the Sea Trail. To begin the hike, follow the signs to Sunset Trail. There are clearly marked trails and maps that will guide you from the parking area to where you need to be. The trail will start with a 300-foot climb up to Middle Ridge before steadily dropping back down into the gorge and on to Berry Creek Falls. You will follow Sunset Trail for about 5.4 miles before turning left onto Berry Creek Falls Trail.
Just before the junction with Berry Creek Falls Trail you will pass a trail that forks off on your right and leads to Sunset Trail Camp. This campground has 10 sites with food lockers, two pit toilets, and trash service. These will be the only restrooms situated along the loop. As soon as you turn left onto Berry Creek Falls Trail you will see Golden Cascades on your right. Golden Cascades is a series of cascading waterfalls that make up three disticnt sections of falls. The uppermost tier is the most impressive section of these cascades. As you descend past these waterfalls, the trail becomes very steep with lots of steps and can get quite slippery if the ground is wet. Golden Cascades is the first of three major waterfalls situated along this 1 mile stretch of trail. Just a short distance down trail from Golden Cascade is Silver Falls. Silver Falls is much taller than Golden Cascade, and the trail goes right along the top of the waterfall, making for a great view looking down the falls. This part of the trail consists of steps chiseled out of the rock with a thick wire railing to hold onto. Both the rock steps and wire railing can be quite slippery, so be sure to descend with caution.
As you descend deeper into this narrow ravine past Silver Falls, the vegetation will get very lush with ferns and Redwood Sorrel. The trail is lined with many fallen redwoods, and if you keep a look out, you might spot a banana slug or a salamander. The Berry Creek Falls Trail continues for about three-quarters of a mile past Silver Falls following the creek. Once you reach Berry Creek Falls, the trail snakes around down the side of the ravine to a viewing platform. There is usually a small crowd gathered on the platform gazing at the waterfall. From the falls, turn left onto Skyline to the Sea Trail. It is approximately 4.4 miles from Berry Creek Falls back to park headquarters. The trail from here is uphill the rest of the way until you reach Middle Ridge. From Middle Ridge it is downhill for the remaining three-quarters of a mile. You might notice that the trail from the viewing platform back to the park headquarters is much busier because many people follow it to Berry Creek Falls and back.